Thursday, August 03, 2006

Assesment an Important Question

In discussing assessment, David Muir writes about what could happen if blogging merely becomes an exercise.

My worry is that a teacher could arrive at the end of a Blog Unit in the pack, have a full set of ticks for every pupil, and assume that they have "done blogs". They could then move onto the next unit without ever going near blogs again. They may have ticked the boxes, but have they actually assessed learning? Perhaps not.”

He raises an important issue about our educational practices in general I have been thinking a lot about assessment and had already decided that along with our technology discussion it would be an important component of my Sept teacher in-services.

To that end I read Transforming Classroom Grading by Robert J Marzano. I believe he has some very important things to say about the question of how we evaluate students and assign grades. I do not have time at the moment to do a thorough review of his book but as I mentioned in my comment on David’s blog I believe that he has some very practical guides to help us tackle the issues of assessment.

Two key elements in his presentation are the careful evaluation of all assessments to determine exactly what knowledge and skill are being assessed and using rubrics to measure mastery rather than simply giving the average of all assignments as the grade. He believes any assessment (unless they are measuring only one thing) should be broken down by the specific knowledge or skill with separate "grades" for each area rather than a lumped into one test grade. He also has developed a great set of adaptable rubrics around the essentials of the curriculum which he identifies as: Information topics, Skill or process topics, and Thinking and Reasoning Skills. He also makes a case for grades as reflective of mastery levels rather than a simple average of all assignments. He argues that if we are deliberate about what we are assessing we should see growth with more practice. ( I know...Duh..but it is my simplistic explanation...because his work is incredibly carefully done)This is only the briefest of summaries and does not do justice to the well developed concept in the book.

I confess I do not fully know how to move forward with this…But I am hoping that others of you will have read this book and that together we can discover its implications.

On another note I am off to go coming this Sunday so I will not be posting from the 6th to the 14th …I will be back though refreshed and ready to go.

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Frank said...

I have bookmarked the book on I will definitely read this, but I may not get to it until September. Perhaps we can electronicall discuss this book some time in the future? I'm sure I will be posting entries about it on my blog.

Barbara said...

Frank - that would be great! Perhaps we can entice a few others to join us.

David said...

Thanks for the link and I'm glad you found my thoughts helpful.

The work on assessment that is having the biggest impact in Scotland at the moment is the "Black Box" stuff by Black, William et al. Two of the key texts are available online: Inside the Black Box and Beyond the Black Box. Check it out - I'm sure you'll find them interesting.

This work is part of the research that is underpinning the Assessment is for Learning programme and there's a whole bundle of resources on this website that are worth reading too.

I hope the in-service goes well in September - keep us posted.